Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Environmental and Urban Studies

Project Advisor 1

Elias Dueker

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Senior Project submitted to The Division of Social Studies of Bard College.

The air environment is known to contain a wide array of microbes. Urban coastal environment studies have shown plenty of interchange between land and sea bacteria. While there have been several studies analyzing the transfer between aquatic and terrestrial microbial communities, few have looked at the impact this transfer might have on individuals. Moreover, facilities like wastewater treatment plants situated in dense urban environments may play an important role in the proliferation of potentially pathogenic bacteria to nearby human populations. Wastewater treatment plants are known to be associated with a wide array of microbial communities, some of which when released into the environment can have detrimental effects to local ecology and human health. Of the many disease-carrying bacteria found in wastewater, Legionella is of specific importance given its context in New York City. In 2015, New York City experienced its worst outbreak of Legionnaires disease in history. While reports and studies confirm building top cooling towers to be breeding grounds for the bacteria, there are virtually no studies that explore how Legionella bacteria arrive there in the first place. This study seeks the plausibility of open-air discharge creeks such as Newtown Creek (Brooklyn, NY) acting as reservoirs for the bacteria. The ultimate question I will be attempting to answer is: How and what does an aerated urban waterway like Newtown Creek create harmful bacterial exposure for individual in and around it? In this project, I tested methods for use in pursuing this question. Specifically, I used a Sioutas five stage personal cascade impactor and a Coriolis C to characterize bacterial aerosols in different environments, including near-ground, building-top, and waterfront sites. I found that total culturable microbial aerosol counts were higher in the coarse fraction, >1.0um, (stages A and B) across all media types when compared to fine particle counts,Legionella in sewage-contaminated waters.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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